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Good Design Brief for a Digital Product

How to Write a Good Design Brief for a Digital Product

Android users had 3.48 million apps to pick from as of the first half of 2021, and if you plan to work on an idea for an app, you must have a solid design brief to be successful. That’s because it can be very difficult to communicate your vision and ideas for an app to a designer or development partner, and failing to do so might lead to failure with the final product since the competition is huge. However, whether you need an application, a desktop app, a mobile app, or other software, you must formalize your ideas in a way that others can understand. That’s where a design brief comes into the picture.

A design brief is a crucial document that describes your design project's ideas and project procedure so that both you and the developer know exactly what is required. It's an important framework that also helps you manage customer requirements, and helps you to stay on track.

This article teaches you everything you need to know to write a good design brief for a digital product, step by step.

What is a Design Brief?

To write a great design brief, you need to know exactly what it is and what purpose it serves. You may have encountered some design briefs before, or you’re completely new to this. Either way, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s start by defining a design brief. What is it exactly?

A design brief is:

  • a written document that summarizes and explains what is expected from the design project in terms of goals & objectives, features, timeline, budget, and final result.

In other words, a design brief helps all parties involved in a design project agree on how things are going to go down. Both the developer and their client are on the same page.

There are two other important questions we need to answer before we start writing our design brief.

1.  Why do you need a design brief?

Sometimes, people feel like they can just talk to the developer, tell them their ideas and vision, and seal the deal. The developer is expected to understand their exact needs and expectations and fulfill them without any bumps in the road.

But, this is the ideal-case scenario that rarely happens.

In reality, without a clearly written design brief, you’ll soon run into problems such as:

  • the developer doesn’t quite understand your needs
  • you haven’t agreed on a budget
  • you have no idea when the project will be finished
  • the developer keeps calling you to ask additional questions

However, with a written design brief, you don’t have to worry about any of these issues. Why? Because you’ve already answered all the questions in the design brief and defined all the technical details.

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2. When should you write a design brief?

There's no difference between design projects when it comes to writing a design brief. You need to write one whenever you are:

  • about to start a new design project
  • looking for a developer to do the job

That means you need to master the skills of writing effective and informative design briefs, to be able to write a new one for each project that comes your way.

That’s the only way for you to make sure your design project is going to be a success.

Good Design Brief

How to Successfully Write a Design Brief: 7 Steps

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to move to the writing part.

In a thrilling brief, vital facts, observations, and client understandings are condensed. That means you need to talk about the company, product, and target customers in a clear, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic manner.

You should also reimagine the obstacles the services and products face, as well as the potential market you've discovered.

We know it sounds overwhelming. We’ve created a 7-step guide for you to learn how to write your design brief, one section at a time. Here are the 7 steps for writing a great design brief for a digital product.

1. Open With a Company Intro

First, the design brief should have an introduction to your business so that everyone on the crew is aware of your story, the branding, and any internal factors that could affect the project's path or performance. You should focus on the important details such as:

  • the company’s title, sector, product categories, services it offers
  • unique selling proposition and/or brand differentiator
  • purpose, goals, values, and messaging for the brand
  • stakeholders involved in the company, suppliers, and contact points
  • direct and indirect competitors on the target market

Company intro will help the developer create a general idea of who you are and what you do. They need to know this, to be able to suit your needs and communicate your brand messages through the design.

Also, in a kickoff meeting, take the time to get to know your developer and/or their team, and be prepared to ask any open question. This is an excellent moment to communicate clearly if you anticipate any issues or misconceptions.

2. Define Project Objectives Clearly

The next thing you want to define in your design brief is the objectives you wish to set and expect the developer to reach in the project. Simply put, tell them what you want them to do.

Declare the design work's goal as simply and precisely as possible. This way, you’ll help the developer with the following:

  • understanding what they’re expected to do
  • knowing your top priorities for the project
  • creating the first specific ideas about the project
  • knowing what to focus on
  • removing doubts or things they may found to be unclear

This will also help with broader marketing goals on a variety of levels, but having a single clear purpose for the brief is extremely useful. Because goals are usually about movement, make this process dynamic.

Be honest about the creative work's possible results. The entire marketing plan's job is to increase sales or market share, not creative work.

3. Focus On the Target Audience

Do you know who your target audience is? Does your developer know?

When you write the design brief, always but always, have the target audience in mind. Answer these burning questions so that both you and the developer know how to approach the project better:

  • What is the demographic you’re targeting?
  • What do the customers feel, do, or think?
  • What is their typical behavior and what habits do they have?
  • How do they perceive your brand?
  • What unsatisfied demands or problems do they have with the particular product?
  • What do they expect or need from your brand?
  • What do you want to offer them?

It can be helpful to picture and describe them as persons and define your ultimate buyer persona for the developer. You can offer a summary of what they're doing, their present issues, and how your program will assist them. Then consider what users could expect from the app whenever they utilize it.

This way, you’ve created clear instructions for the developer and they know who the digital product design is for. Your target audience becomes their target audience.

4. Describe Your Specific App Expectations

The developer needs to know what images about the app you've created in your mind, and how you expect it to turn out. Naturally, not all your ideas will be possible to realize, but it'll help them know what you have in mind.

So, you should describe what your specific expectations about the app are.

Include and describe your expectations about:

  • what the app should look like
  • how the user will feel about it
  • the tone, style, and graphic handwriting that will dominate

Apart from describing it with words, try painting a visual image of your expectations. Include and share some graphics, images of objects that will be included with new design work, current visuals, or campaign. Share any images or colors that you like or believe would be good for the project. Show examples of people who have taken an idea and run with it.

Don’t hesitate to draw sketches by hand or include any screenshots you may have taken. The developer doesn’t expect any professional visual presentation. They just want to understand what you have in mind and give it their best to accomplish it.

5. Specify the Timeline

Your project design brief should include a detailed timeline that both you and the designer need to follow. This timeline will benefit both parties:

  • the developer will know exactly how much time they have to finish the project
  • you’ll know exactly when the project will be finished

There will be no room for rushing or pressuring anyone, and you’ll be protected from potential project stalling and running late.

So, break down the project's major dates:

  • project outline
  • initial drafts
  • revision and editing
  • testing
  • launching

Also, be honest about the amount of time required for an internal check. Although you'll need to decide on a full-time schedule with the agency/designer, specifying launch timelines and dates for any important design milestones can aid resource financial management.

6. Talk About The Budget

Budgets, budgets, budgets. Everyone enjoys thinking about money, but no one likes to be the first to expose their card.

It requires money to do good design work. In contrast to a design stretch or adaptation, a full brand overhaul will require a large expense.

 Consider the following factors when deciding on a spending plan:

  • the requirement
  • outputs
  • timelines
  • amount of work the developer will invest
  • the design work's impact on your brand
  • your return of investment

Then, decide what your budget is and how much you’re ready to pay for the project.

Also, be prepared for negotiating. The developer might or might not accept your offer. The important thing is that you listen to their pricing explanation and find a solution that suits both of you.

Once you agree, decide about the payment dynamics and the final price for completing the entire project. Put it all in writing in the design brief.

Good Design Brief

7. Include The Team Members

Finally, you want to know more about the people working on your project and the roles that will be assigned to them. This is to help you keep everything under control, and always know who to talk to if an issue comes up.

So, start by inquiring about who would be the project's principal contact point and who will approve off on all documents. For further information, go to if there will be anyone else on the approval list, gather their name, email, and mobile number.

While every developer or agency approaches creative briefs in their own unique manner, partnering with your developer at the start of a project can help you get the most out of it. Your design brief will help you to specify your objectives and goals, solicit feedback from key partners, and hold all parties accountable for the result in this manner. 

The Bottom Line

The design brief is the best project management tool if done correctly. Learning how to compose a design brief is time well spent if you want to keep your web development projects on track. Implement these suggestions into your designing and development process to ensure that your plans get off to a good start.

When it comes to finding an agency and planning out your design project, your design brief is a useful tool. It'll almost always be added to or changed. That is precisely how it should be applied. It's a place to start. You'll have ideas as you move along, things will alter, and goals will become more accessible or inaccessible. Your emphasis may shift completely.

Author : Donald Fomby

Donald Fomby is a self-taught content writer who is enjoyed success with numerous popular blogs. Using his degrees in computer science and digital marketing, Donald writes quality articles and guides on content marketing, UX, and SEO. Currently, he’s also a writer for the best dissertation writing service.

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